Thursday, 4 August 2016

CEO Sleepout with the Ambassador of Switzerland.

On July 28th 2016, I joined the Ambassador of Switzerland and almost 200 CEO’s at Nelson Mandela Bridge for the #4Leaders4Change CEO Sleepout challenge to spend the night there to fundraise money while gaining empathy for the homeless. The ambassador’s 3 leaders included myself (Joyful Mdhluli), Zoë Petersen and Balz Abplanalp as seen in the picture below.
Embassy of Switzerland's #4Leaders4Change
Embassy of Switzerland's #4Leaders4Change
The #4Leaders4Change CEO Sleepout challenge managed to raise around 19 million by the night of sleepout with the Embassy of Switzerland fundraising over R217 000 to date. We were given a sleeping bag and cardboard boxes to sleep on after having donated a blanket, an informal outfit including shoes and a book. Coffee and soup was available and could be purchased with virtual money we had to work for by either making sandwiches at the kitchen stalls, taking selfies at the photo booth or knitting blankets.

Clothes that were donated upon arrival.
Zoë and I making sandwiches to buy coffee/hot chocolate and soup.
The Ambassador and I after donating our clothes.

I met a lot of CEO’s including the CEO of MTN, KMPG, Liberty Group SA and companies I didn’t even know existed. Among the CEO’s I also met the Premier of Gauteng , the Mayor of Joburg, the Minister of Finance, the ambassador of Canada and the Sleepout organizers.

Ambassador with the CEO of MTN.
Most of the people attempted to sleep in the cold tar road after 12 am and only a few (including myself) stayed up sitting around the fire.

People made tents out of boxes.
Team Switzerland sleeping around 2 am.
After spending 12 hours out in the cold, the Minister of Finance addressed the crowd and Mr Tokyo Sexwale announced that he would be hosting the CEO Sleepout next year on Neslon Mandela Day in Robben Island. 
On our way home at 6 am after spending 12 hours on the bridge.
The experience has taught me to look at homeless people differently. When I see a homeless person now, I don’t see a dirty person who is annoying me for money but someone who spends every night out in the cold with no food or warm clothes. I barely survived the night while wearing 3 jerseys, 3 pairs of pants and a fire to keep me warm. I definitely have empathy for the homeless after spending the night out in the cold.

All the sandwiches made during the night were all given to over a 1000 homeless people together with all the sleeping bags used, clothes and blankets donated.

The homeless collecting their food, sleeping bags and blankets.
It was an honor and a privilege to share this experience with the Ambassador and her team members but I really hope I don't have to do that again any time soon.

More information about the Sleepout

Friday, 17 June 2016

Finally, today we managed to connect all the necessary fibre cables from the Demonstrator module to the Trigger and Data Aquisition System (TDAQ) and took some partial data. In the picture below you will see me (Dingane Hlaluku, Wits University) covering up the barrel modules on top of the table at the Prevessin test beam area.

The Table with which the modules are hooked up can be 360 degrees both clockwise and anticlockwise and also laterally to suit the expert's requirements for data taking. This movement can be achieved in 2 ways viz. manually (see picture below) or remotely using python scripts. We have properly setup the positions which will be required for this test beam into the remote control machine as well today so that there will not be a need for shifters to be in the beam area during data taking.

The picture below shows the position of the beam chamber (Beam focused through that purple rectangular quadrilateral). The beam is kept focused whilst the table with the module is moved around. In the picture below is Andrew Matilton (University of Chicago).

Friday, 10 June 2016

After several  intense weeks of preparation, the demonstrator inside  the Module JINR65 finally makes it to the TB site.  We had   certainly few glitches  but you can see from the picture attached that  we were ready for everything and neither  a  flat tire    could have stopped us today. Moreover, it seems to works pretty well.  A couple of pictures depicting some of the action from today...

Standing next to the truck with the extended barrel module is Dingane Hlaluku in Building 175 where the module was assembled and tested and it is now being taken to the test beam site at Prevessin.

Dingane Hlaluku  (Wits) and Andrew Milton (University of Chicago) closing up the module after inserting the super drawers in Building 175.

Dingane Hlaluku connecting the Single Board Computer (SBC) and the Trigger and Timing Control unit (TTC) for the module's back end electronics. The SBC is responsible for communication between the back end electronics devices which are the TTC, Central Trigger Processing etc. The SBC is also responsible for reading out information.  

Dingane, Irakli and Jallal in building 175 inserting the Super Drawers into the Extended barrel module.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Visiting Professor John Ellis at CERN

Some group members, currently stationed at CERN were able to meet with Professor John Ellis. Prof. Ellis is arguably the most cited theorist in our field and an icon in collider physics for many. Enjoy!

In the pictures you will see Shell-may Liao, Tshidiso Molupe, Dingane Hlaluku, Tomiwa Kehinde, Stefan von Buddenbrock, Xifeng Ruan and Bruce Mellado

Below is the team in Prof. Ellis' famous office

At the Microcosm exhibition at CERN with a picture of the ATLAS detector in the background,

A picture taken with the chamber where the Z and W bosons were discovered,


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Second High Energy Particle Physics workshop to take place at iThemba LABS - North (Gauteng) February 8th-10th

Everything is ready for second High Energy Particle Physics workshop to take place at iThemba LABS - North (Gauteng) February 8th-10th.

The workshop will be opened by the Wits DVC research, Prof. Zeblon Vilakazi, Dr. Daniel Adams from the DST, Prof. Azwinndini Muronga, President of the SAIP,  Prof. Jean Cleymans, Chair of the SA-CERN consortium, and the Head of the School of Physics, Prof. Joao Rodrigues. Following the opening we will have lectures on Quantum Field Theory by Dr. Will Horowitz, on data analysis with ROOT by Dr. Deepak Kar and statistics by Prof. Eilam Gross. Prof. Eilam Gross was a convenor of the Higgs group of the ATLAS experiment when the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012.

The remaining two days will be devoted to presentations by students and young researchers.

For more details you can go to the workshop’s website

The agenda is available at

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The proceedings of the first High Energy Particle Physics Workshop in South Africa have just been published

The proceedings of the High Energy Particle Physics Workshop that took place at iThemba LABS - North, Johannesburg, February 11th-13th 2015 have just been published in IoP Conference Series on-line. The hard copies will be available soon to speakers, libraries, etc...

The HEPPW2015 is the first workshop in the country where South African students and young researchers get together to report on their research activities to the community. This includes theory, phenomenology, data analysis and instrumentation in collider physics. An emphasis is made in collider physics with CERN-related activities.

This workshop bears witness that the field of High Energy Particle Physics in the area of collider physics is getting established in South Africa.

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Friday, 9 October 2015

More on the Description of the Test Beam Chamber

The concrete shielding blocks are removed, providing clear access to the Beam Chamber from the "garage". This is done with the help of a huge mobile crane, manipulated with extreme precision by the operator. Control, lifting and moving of these huge objects has to be seen to be believed!

Tons hovering over the table, frightening!

 Another block launches

Quickly the path to the chamber is cleared. Safety first as the remaining access to the garage area is secured.

Heads up!

View from the garage as the table moves into the Beam Chamber


Beam Up!

Whew! It's been a hectic last week. Beam up on the 7th October as planned, after a lot of tense moments and hard work by all. The table, with the Extended Barrel in place, finally found its home in the Beam Chamber.

Cleared Space in the Beam Chamber

Extended Barrel in Place on top of the Long Barrel

Table moving into the Beam Chamber!

With the table in place, work could continue with the final checking of the electronics and testing the communications and date transfer. The amount of modules in the racks continued to grow. Connections between the NIM bins, VME crates and dedicated electronic systems multiplied.

 Rack Growth is almost organic

Included in that growth was the PPr emulator box, assembled by the Wits team. Very innocuous looking but the heart of the demonstrator electronics.

Front Panel of the PPr Emulator

A lot of work was also put into the set-up of the workstations for the Shift Workers. The "Shifters", as they are called, are a vital link, keeping an eye on all systems as the beam continues through a 24 hour cycle. Oscar and Roman are part of that team.

Roman at one of the Shifter's Workstations

Meetings every morning are a core part of the the process and are well attended. Lots of new ideas and solutions to immediate problems are addressed and then it's "Back to Work!"

Roman explaining latest progress

The Beam quality is apparently excellent, so the pressure is on to get the best possible results. There are some major issues that need addressing, however data collection has began and the signs are positive for a successful test beam!

 The Wits contingent!

More Later!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Description of the Test Beam Chamber

The Test Beam Chamber is currently divided into two separate areas. The table is currently in an area called the "garage". This area is next to the beam line and shielded from it by huge concrete blocks. This enables the table to be worked on in a safe area shielded from radiation. The table can be seen here parked in the "garage" with the concrete blocks behind it. The cables to the control room can be seen on the right, on a blue support arm, going up over the blocks.

Stan and Robert working in the "garage", on the table surface

The second area is where the table will be during the Test Beam. The concrete blocks will be removed and the table will be moved on steel "railway" tracks into the path of the beam.

The Beam Chamber

The concrete blocks can be seen on the right as well as the magnets through which the beam will travel. The blocks in the foreground are part of the beam dump components and will be removed prior to moving the table.

A view downstream, showing other experiments in the beam path